Principal Rob House signs the Stigma Free pledge banner at Spectrum Community School on Wednesday. The Spectrum Philanthropy Club has planned a monthly schedule of awareness campaigns to break down different stigmas, such as mental health and religion. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Club wants Spectrum to be first stigma-free school on the Island

Earning the designation as a stigma free zone takes a year, worth it, say students

A group of Spectrum Community School students is seeking to make the high school Vancouver Island’s first “stigma-free zone.”

The newly formed Spectrum Philanthropy Club, a group of mostly Grade 12 students, invited Robyn Thomas from the Stigma Free Society to help kick off the initiative last Wednesday morning.

Thomas addressed some 300 Spectrum students in the drama theatre about her own story of mental health, overcoming PTSD, and what can be done to break down certain stigmas including mental health, along with all negative stereotypes, she said.

“We’ll work with the school for the year to help it work towards being a stigma-free zone,” Thomas said. “It’s a process and at the end we’ll designate the school a stigma-free zone.”

Thomas then joined the club in the school’s front foyer during lunch, while the club invited students and staff to sign their giant stigma-free pledge banner. The movement coincides with Spectrum staff’s own initiative, Spec-Respect.

“We formed this group out of our social justice class that was supposed to happen but didn’t have enough people,” said club member Ethan Badr, in Grade 12. “We’ll hold an event every month, I think it’s really important.”

The school population is already a relatively positive group with low rates of homophobia, racism or judgment regarding mental health, Badr said. But the goal is to make being stigma free a part of the school’s ongoing culture. One way they’ll do that is by holding a presentation for all Grade 9s (Spectrum is Grade 9 to 12) at the beginning of each school year, starting in 2018.

For this year, the club has launched a season-long calendar which will identify different stigmas each month.

For example, in December the group will build awareness around religion as the month holds significant meaning in Christianity, Judaism and other beliefs, said Grade 12 Jalen Smith. January will focus on mental health, which picks up on the momentum from Bell’s Let’s Talk Day.

The banner will come out again and will soon be posted in the school, Badr added.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Saanich resident sends distress signal over cell-phone tower

Wes Solomonson says proposed cell-tower will undermine value of his rural Saanich home

The 38th annual New Year Classic saw 172 players in 226 matches

New lights in Oak Bay tennis bubble illuminate local talent

Passengers bound for Victoria say Sunwing left them stranded in Abbotsford

Company says late arrival led to difficulties securing accommodation, transportation

Third Victoria person pricked by needle in past week

Police say this one appears to have been deliberately placed

Saanich’s Cadboro Bay neighbourhood gets ready for its close up

Revisions to local area plan are set to decide future of popular beachfront neighbourhood

Spike in graffiti for Oak Bay

“Someone knows who this is and I encourage them to call us or Crime Stoppers”

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

“This man is reprehensible,” tweeted former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management department sent a mistaken warning

Toronto girl dies after being pinned between vehicles while picked up from school

Police say an SUV with no driver in it rolled forward and pinned the girl against her father’s car

Saanich signals support for in-fill developments in Gorge-Tillicum

The Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood continues to experience infill. Council’s committee-of-the-whole signaled Saanich’s support… Continue reading

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

Most Read